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Now that Apple’s newest Mac Mini sports a super fast Intel chip, Windows users may be thinking again about switching.
The chip, coupled with the sleek Mac OSX Tiger operating system, will win you over if all you do is surf the Web, check your e-mail, download music and write Microsoft Word reports.

The Mac is great for making your own music, movies and visual art, but steer clear if you play games and do a lot of business-y stuff with Windows computers. Most computer programs are aimed at the huge PC market, with versions for the Mac coming as cobbled-together afterthoughts, if at all.

Apple’s new Mac Mini desktop computer has an Intel chip, instead of the IBM chip of yore, and it boasts speeds of up to four times those of previous Minis.

The base model is $599 without keyboard, mouse or display (You can use your current keyboard, mouse and display if you’re upgrading your Mac or switching from a Windows-based PC). The souped-up model is $799 and is about twice as fast as the base model, has a better DVD/CD drive and a bigger hard drive.

A similar PC from Dell — the XPS 200 — runs about $300 more but includes a monitor, mouse and keyboard.

For most people, the well-behaved, low-maintenance Mac Mini will run circles around a Windows-based system. Setting up a home Wi-Fi network is a breeze with the included Airport Extreme card; getting pictures off your camera and camcorder is a cakewalk; and a ton of software on the Mac makes life easier. Safari ensures speedy Web surfing; “Office for Mac” is like Microsoft Office for the PC. The Mini includes a program that helps you copy Windows files to the Mac, though it’s not designed to copy entire programs (for example, you won’t wind up with two copies of, say, Adobe Photoshop Elements on your computer).

Switching from a Windows computer to a Mac Mini is a cinch, and Apple hopes its $799 dual-core computer gives PC users more reasons than ever to boot the PC.

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